I began running many years ago as an attempt to lose weight. It worked, but it also opened up a new world for me into the power of movement. My love for running has grown over the years, so much so that it has become a focus of reading and research into what I hope will become books and/or writings in the future.
It started out so simply, with me trying every week to run continuously just a quarter of a mile more than I had done the previous week. It added up quickly. From there, I began to find out more about accomplished marathoners and ultrarunners, then spiritual runners, such as the Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei. I found works that told of the legend of Pheidippides, running from Marathon to Athens, and how inspired such a run would have to be to do so until your last breath. I read of the Tarahumara. I found Joseph Campbell’s writings and lectures beyond ""The Hero with a Thousand Faces"" and it changed my perspective on life and how I/we live it. I found works about “induced movement,” practiced by such people as Thoreau, Baudelaire, and Huxley, to name a few. Great minds of history have been known to jumpstart their research and philosophical quests by taking a walk or run during the day, some with the assistance of narcotics and/or opiates (an experience I highly recommend, no pun intended).
The power of Nature and the outside world, in my humble opinion, cannot be denied. Through running and hiking, I have found solace, healing, creativity, new insights, original ideas, plots for books, meditation, personal realizations, strength, and self-discipline. There are studies which show the positive effects of movement on all sorts of psychological disorders, from children with behavior disorders to soldiers returning from war. Movement as therapy is a practice too long ignored.
My hope is that all of us around the world get up and move more, especially in the great outdoors. Our national parks, green spaces, and wilderness areas are where we truly find ourselves by leaving the modern world behind and seeing what we are capable of. It is a mentally healing practice and its therapeutic benefits cannot be denied.
My wife and I are embarking on our own walking adventure next year; we will be quitting our four collective jobs to hike the Appalachian Trail. We are both excited and terrified for various reasons. We have been planning and saving for about three years. We have no children, no debt to speak of, older cars, no mortgage, and have begun to pare down our possessions, all with the intent of starting over on the trail and after, when we will move to a new location and begin a new life. Sure, it’ll take a 2,000-mile trek to do it, but if you want to get somewhere new, you have to be willing to take the first steps.
I hope all of you who take the time to read this are already lovers of the outdoors or that you choose in the future to get out more. Find your own hike, take your own steps, and I think you will be amazed at where you end up and who you become.
Here’s to your first or next steps, all of you!